Privacy and the interwebs

No food reviews tonight. We've had a few crazy days, filled with great friends, meeting new people, and slowly creeping out of someone's house after they've fallen asleep watching a movie. Good times.

I'm not sure many of you know this, but I work in the field of privacy in the federal government. I'm also taking a part-time certificate course from the University of Alberta in Information Access and Protection of Privacy. This, if you were interested.

My family has always been early adopters of technology. My grandparents had the first colour tv on the block, one of the first people to own a personal computer, and my own parents invested in an internet connection back when it cost less than ten dollars a month to do so. So, I grew up in the land of DOS (C:\ anyone?) and the "Jane of the Jungle" computer game.

Anyways, aside from my obvious early decent into absolute nerd-dom, the modern concept of personal privacy on the internet fascinates me. As someone who has always had the internet, and has had a web presence since she was 7 or so, the concept of having the right to control my personal information online is very new to me. When online shopping became popular, public concerns arose around sharing your credit card information online. I vividly remember showing my grandma that the little "lock" on the screen meant it was secure to purchase things. Wasn't I naive?

Of course, everything has changed with the invent and speedy adoption of the various social networking mediums - in particular, FACEBOOK. I know, old news right? However, discussions around privacy in social networking was my first major exposure to personal privacy issues on the internet. When I started taking the privacy courses, and working more in the field, my concerns for the privacy of my own personal information and the state of privacy laws in Canada grew.

Did you know the federal Privacy Act was passed in 1983? 1983!!! And, by the way, it hasn't been changed at all since. It was passed before the internet was widely adopted. Before the concept of tissue or blood samples as personal information. Mind boggling really.

I don't have any specific advice for people who are concerned about their privacy on the internet. My only suggestions are to inform yourself of your rights to control your personal information, and to not let anyone take advantage of those rights in order to get those extra chickens on Farmville (reminds me of my mom! -A).


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